Boards with TV tuner, radio tuner, and video capture functions are becoming more and more popular. However, for the “green” user, it is a little hard to understand what the differences among the several models of board on the market are. To make things easier, we have elaborated a small glossary so you can understand the meaning of the most common resources and terms of that type of peripheral.

  • PVR: It means Personal Digital Video Recorder. It is the name under which boards with TV tuner and recording and video capture features are called. Boards classified as PVR allow programming TV recording through date and time, pretty much like you record programs using a VCR.

  • PIP: It means Picture in Picture; it is a common feature in the most expensive televisions. As of the TV boards, this feature allows showing what is on TV and playing a recorded video simultaneously. You choose which one will be shown full screen and which one will be shown in a smaller window.

  • MPEG Compression: MPEG compression is used in DVDs. If the chip of your capture board has this feature it means it is capable of codifying videos for DVD recording. When the board does not have this feature, the machine processor does the video codification. The advantage of the board’s having this feature is that the process of video codification for DVD recording will be faster, because the computer processor will not be used in this process.

  • Time shifting or live pause: That allows you to pause a TV program you are watching live (to go to the bathroom or to answer the telephone, for instance). When you click on the pause key again, or in the play key, the program will continue playing from the point where it stopped, until meeting the live programs again. This feature works by removing some pictures from the exhibition, making the exhibition of the part between when you pressed pause and the program playing live be made in a little more accelerated way, yet almost imperceptibly.

  • CC: Close Caption, subtitling system transmitted by the TV broadcasting station. To work, the transmission has to include this system.

  • Teletext: System that transmits information such as news, weather forecast, what’s on at the movies, etc., through the TV system.

  • Direct Burn: Allows the direct, real-time recording on DVD of TV programs and video that are being captured. Thus the generated file is directly recorded on DVD instead of being saved to the hard disk first, which saves time and storage space in the hard disk. This resource will only work if you have a DVD recorder, naturally.

  • De-interlacing: Television broadcasting uses an interlaced scanning system, and video monitors use a non-interlaced scanning one. Thus, if look closely at TV-captured images you will see a series of lines. The de-interlacing system consists of removing these lines – typical of TV-captured images – considerably enhancing of the captured images.

  • Streaming: a technique of video or sound transmission without the need of waiting for the finalization of the file to start its reproduction. In the case of FM, TV, and capture boards, this resource allows a video or audio that it is being captured to be transmitted live through the Internet or a network, at the same time. Some boards only allow the streaming of already captured files, not allowing the streaming at the same time you capture TV, radio or video.

  • RGB: The best cable system for the transmission of images, in which each color component (red, green, and blue) is transmitted through an individual cable. Unfortunately this system is not found in home systems, only in professional systems.

  • Video Component: High-quality cabling system, inferior to RGB, though. In this standard three connectors are used, called Y (green connector), Pb (or Cb or B-Y, blue connector) and Pr (or Cr or R-Y, red connector). In the Y connector the video information is transmitted (black and white image) while the color information is transmitted in the other connectors.

  • S-video: Cabling system inferior to the component video, that uses a connector containing three wires, one for the transmission of the luminance information (black and white image), one for the transmission of the crominance information (color information), and a ground wire.

  • Composite video: Cabling system inferior to S-video that uses a connector with two wires – a ground wire and another wire for the transmission of the video signal itself. It is the system used in videocassette recorders, its signal being used in the video-in and video-out plugs. It is the system that offers the worst video quality.

  • CVBS: Another name for the composite video, an acronym that means Color, Video, Blanking and Sync.

  • RF: Radio frequency abbreviation. It is the signal transmission system used by televisions.

  • CATV: Cable TV. Now all TV boards can capture cable TV signals (from non-codified channels), for which all you have to do is to connect the cable operator’s cable directly to the antenna-in plug of the TV board. To record codified channels, you will have to use the decoder supplied by the operator, connecting the cable to the decoder and the decoder to the TV board, as if the board were a TV. You will have to sintonize the board to the operation channel of the decoder (usually channel 3) and control the channel syntony through the decoder. The problem with this configuration is that you will have to leave the decoder tuned to the channel you want to record from in case you want to program the computer to record a TV program when you are not at the computer.

  • DVB: Digital Video Broadcasting or digital television. Transmission of the TV programs in digital format.

  • DAB: Digital Audio Broadcasting or digital radio. Digital radio system, usually satellite-transmitted. It is important not to take this system for digital radio system offered through DVB (that is, TV operators that offer TV channels that play music 24 hours a day).

  • NTSC: Standard used for TV and video transmissions in the USA.

  • PAL: Standard used for TV and video transmissions in the Europe.

  • RC: Remote Control. Nowadays most boards have remote control.

  • Video on Desktop: Resource that permits configuring a video or TV channel to be shown as if it were a Windows wallpaper, allowing you to have normal access to the icons in your desktop.

  • HDTV: High Definition TV. High definition television that uses digital transmission (DVB).

  • Progressive Scan: synonym of non-interlaced scanning, which has better quality than the system used by TVs (interlaced scanning).

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.